Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, does not just affect kids. An estimated 30% to 70% of children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms in adulthood, while some are never even diagnosed. Meanwhile, some people's symptoms do not become evident until adulthood, leaving them baffled when they struggle to perform in college or work.
It is a lifelong condition that can affect all aspects of life. Adults with ADHD may have trouble prioritizing, organizing, and completing tasks. Not only does this cause problems at work, but relationships can also become strained. Fortunately, there are non-medical treatment options that can help adults with ADHD manage their symptoms.
What is ADHD in Adults?
It is estimated that 4.4% of adults have ADHD.1 It is a burden that can impact a person’s sense of self-worth while impairing relationships. ADHD in adults is an executive functioning disorder characterized by an apparent inability to focus and rein in impulsivity. What may appear to others as inattention results from a mind and imagination racing too fast to concentrate. This can hamstring attempts to communicate with others, leaving the person feeling isolated and misunderstood. ADHD in adults can feel like your brain is sabotaging your best efforts. Sometimes, negative thoughts chase away any sense of security, becoming an obsessive repetition of worst-case scenarios.2
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Adults
ADHD symptoms in adults can vary, ranging from mild to severe. The symptoms can also change over time. An adult with ADHD also had it as a child, though it may have never been recognized or diagnosed.3
The symptoms most adults with ADHD experience are:
Difficulty following directions
Trouble remembering information
Difficulty organizing tasks
Trouble with impulse control
Restlessness and anxiety
Difficulty managing strong emotions4
ADHD in adults affects people in a variety of ways. For instance, where one person may seem filled with nervous energy, endlessly pacing, tapping, and fidgeting, another may be able to exert more control, coming across as simply having high energy.
Common signs of ADHD in adults include:
Poor time management: Distractions can swamp attempts to get and stay organized.
Risky driving: Distractions, including texting, divert attention from the task at hand. Impatience and irritability: When their brain is running at super speed, it is easy to become impatient with the comparatively slow pace of those around you.5
Angry outbursts: Emotions often seem bigger or more intense than the situation warrants. As frustration builds and impulse control falters, angry outbursts are common.6
Hyperfocus: Incongruously, ADHD in adults can lead to becoming so hyper-focused on an interesting subject or task that they disregard their surroundings and circumstances.
Rocky relationships: Various symptoms of ADHD in adults can be misinterpreted as a lack of regard or inattention in a relationship.
Seeming carelessness: The inability to pay attention and follow directions can lead to mistakes others construe as careless.
Frequent forgetfulness: It may seem that an adult with ADHD is always losing things or forgetting important appointments or commitments.7
Effects of ADHD in Adults
The effects of ADHD in adults can range from minor to profound. Not all people with ADHD will experience all of these effects. And some effects will be periodic, waxing and waning at different times. But others may be constant. Adult ADHD effects can occur in all aspects of life:
Exhaustion: A racing mind, endless anxiety, and restlessness can be exhausting. Adult ADHD also frequently includes trouble sleeping when it is impossible to turn off the brain.
Chronic boredom: People with ADHD can quickly become bored when empty time seems to stretch, leading to an almost painful craving for stimulation.
Underemployment: Several ADHD symptoms can combine to make a person make seemingly careless mistakes on the job and appear less dedicated and hardworking than others.
Procrastination: Procrastination compounds the time management issues for those with adult ADHD. Boring tasks are put off in favor of something more interesting. Focusing on the past or future can be difficult, as the present moment may feel overwhelming.
Feeling dismissed: Adult ADHD is poorly understood by the public at large, and the challenges associated with it are frequently dismissed.
Feeling rejected: Adults with ADHD can be highly sensitive to criticism and feeling rejected by others.
Feeling like a failure: All too often, ADHD can lead to thoughts and feelings of failure.
ADHD in adults can be an immense burden. Fortunately, there are ways to lighten the load.
Managing ADHD in Adults
There are many treatment options for ADHD in adults. The options include education, skills training, medication, and psychological counseling. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Managing ADHD in adults may require time and a certain amount of trial and error until you determine the best approach.
Brain training programs like Brain Balance help adults and children with ADHD. Ours is a nonmedical approach takes a holistic approach to helping you learn to exercise your brain, building its connectivity, so you can improve your ability to focus. Rather than coping strategies, we offer a combination of sensory-motor exercises, nutritional guidance, and cognitive training. We help you harness the power of your brain and guide it toward meeting your goals.
Participants in our Adult program work 1:1 with a dedicated Performance Coach to follow an individualized plan customized to strengthen their abilities. Contact us today to learn how we can help you or a loved one to find a better balance with adult ADHD.